By John Miltenberger
“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, In which you trusted, they wearied you, Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? [Jeremiah 12:5; NKJV]
It’s been financially tough lately here on Happiness Island! Thinking back on it, the beginning of the concerted attack was at 5:00 am on June 22nd, when I awakened with only one eye working. Wow, now that was a day I’d rather forget!! And on, and on. No, I’m not asking or seeking sympathy or donations, and in the context of this piece, that would be embarrassing.
This month I replaced a sump pump (critical equipment on Happiness Island!), back in early June I replaced the boundary fence (very expensive!), and then I recently found out that both A/C units had leaked Freon and needed to be refilled ($100 per gallon!). Yesterday I learned that one of the A/C units was on the fritz again…O I forgot, several weeks ago I fell off a ladder and crashed and smashed a toilet (how often have you heard that one?!). Last night, the kitchen sink became unusable, along with the garbage disposal that shares the same drain pipe (hidden back behind the wall where it’s unreachable to replace!). Add the simple routine maintenance on the car this month, which was supposed to be focused on an oil change, ended up with a total hit of $652, and I just couldn’t be happier, here on Happiness Island…..
After recently learning that my trees have leaves, not money, I was praying this morning about my sad circumstances and the above verse came to mind. I’ve always loved the verse, so I looked it up and meditated on it…. You know what? I don’t have it so bad, and I’m a real baby to have entertained the idea that I did.
First, I have a covenant relationship with Almighty God. That’s a great place to begin, for it is in fact, my foundation for every other good thing, hope and all faith. It all begins there, for without that covenanted relationship, I am dead meat! And by the way, without the covenant relationship with God, so are you. Perhaps your number hasn’t been called yet, but it will. It’s just like the old Draft days.
Second, I have the promises of my covenant God to rely on. He’s promised me to ‘be with me in trouble, and deliver me’. Sounds good, but of course He wouldn’t be able to keep that promise unless I was actually ‘in trouble’. Not cool, but good. I can count on Him, but only if I choose to do so. I can also throw in the towel, have myself a good cry, and relapse into the morass of pity. I tried that…never works. It is a ‘morass’ after all, which is like mental and spiritual quicksand – as long as you’re in it, you can only sink deeper.
Third, after listening to a sermon CD I received in the mail several days ago (“A Righteous Relationship”, by Pastor Steve Gray), I learned that I am more than simply “accepted” by God, and loved by Him because ‘God is love’ and hence, He has no choice…rather, I am WANTED. I’m starting to get happy right about now!
Fourth, just what have I lost that can’t be replaced? Nothing. The perception of “loss” is baloney. It’s all His stuff anyway, and I know this because I gave it all to Him before I even moved into Happiness Island. It belongs to Him, and He just lets me use it because He loves me. Well, really! Where is the complaint?
Now I’m not only getting happy, I’m starting to feel silly on top of it! I asked God some months ago to reveal Himself to me in new ways and increase my ability to use the faith He bestowed upon me. And while I’m tempted to think I maybe rushed in where angels fear to tread, all this is nothing more than His answer to that prayer. I’ve noticed that God answers some prayers with incredible consistency and speed (i.e.: ask Him for Patience!!).
Fifth, unlike many thousands in Florida today, I DO have a house to live in, even if some of it is currently rebelling. If it had rained last night, I would have stayed dry, and as long as I’m not a vegetable, that’s good!
Sixth, I remembered my old range instructor used to always say, “Before you run out of ammunition, you’ll run out of time.” In my current circumstances, I would append that to: “There will always be more money; it’s time you’re running out of.”
Seventh, and I’ll close with this because seven is such a magical, biblical number: If my love and trust in God can’t remain healthy in these little attacks, how will they ever be strong enough to endure to the end?
And there I am, and there we are…back to Jeremiah 12:5. I think I’m on to something..
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